Russia Attacks Ukraine: While It Happens

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, forcing residents to flee for their lives and leaving at least 40 Ukrainian soldiers and 10 civilians dead.

Follow the latest news as it happens (follow the news in Russian here):

2:31 p.m.: Eighteen people died in an airstrike against a military base near Odessa, a Ukrainian port city on the Black Sea, the local administration said.

“Eighteen died – eight men and 10 women. At the moment we continue to dig through the rubble,” the Odessa regional administration said in a statement.

2:30 p.m.: Russian forces have entered the northern Kyiv region, Ukrainian border guards notedstaging an attack with Grad missiles against government positions.

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said Russian forces took control of Antonov International Airport in the Kyiv suburb of Gostomel after videos circulating on social media showed Russian military helicopters attacking the airport.

2:30 p.m.: The Kremlin believes the Russians will “support” Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, saying the duration of the mission will depend on the “results” and last as long as necessary. He also said that a sharp drop in the value of the ruble and the Moscow stock exchange was a predictable reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

2:20 p.m.: NATO will hold a virtual summit on the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Friday, diplomats told AFP, as the alliance announced after an emergency meeting that “additional measures” were being taken to protect member countries.

1:35 p.m.: Russia’s Communications Watchdog warned media, they would be “immediately blocked” and fined 5 million rubles ($59,000) for spreading “deliberately false information” regarding Russia’s military actions in Ukraine.

“We emphasize that it is official Russian news sources that possess and distribute reliable and up-to-date information,” the watchdog Roskomnadzor said.

1:19 p.m.: Several Russian directors, producers and celebrities have job black squares to Instagram to protest the war.

Russian journalists too joined the chorus of voices opposed to the war, with at least three dozen signatures of an anti-war petition launched by Kommersant business daily journalist Yelena Chernenko as early as Thursday afternoon.

1:02 p.m.: The Russian military said Moscow-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine were advancing and gaining territory.

Military spokesman Igor Konashenkov told state television that the forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic had gained “up to three kilometres” (1.8 miles) of territory and those of the Lugansk People’s Republic “had advanced a kilometer and a half”.

He added that Russia had “high precision weapons” and that Ukrainian civilians had “nothing to worry about”.

12:52 p.m.: More than 40 Ukrainian servicemen and “nearly 10 civilians” were killed at the start of the Russian attack, the Ukrainian government’s press service said.

12:39 p.m.: Russian Ministry of Transport noted it will evacuate people from southern Russia by train and bus after flights to most cities in the region were cancelled.

12:37 p.m.: Ukraine has severed diplomatic relations with Russia, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has announced.

12:31 p.m.: The Russian Defense Ministry said the “people’s militia” from the self-proclaimed breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine launched a counteroffensive with fire support from the Russian armed forces.

12:28 p.m.: The Ukrainian Ministry of Health has temporarily suspended all planned hospitalizations.

12:02 p.m.: Banks and ATMs in Moscow no longer dispense euros or dollars, Moscow Times correspondents reported. Currency exchanges have also stopped trading rubles for dollars and euros as the Russian currency soars.

11:47 a.m.: Ukraine’s military command said government forces killed “around 50 Russian occupiers” while repelling an attack on a frontline town with Moscow-backed rebels. AFP could not immediately confirm the death toll.

“Shchastya is under control. 50 Russian occupiers were killed. Another Russian plane was destroyed in the Kramatorsk district. This is the sixth,” the Armed Forces General Staff said on Twitter.

11:30 a.m.: Video shows a long line of cars waiting to cross the border between Ukraine and Slovakia.

11:25 a.m.: Ukraine’s army chief said on Thursday he received orders from President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to repel a Russian invasion of his country.

“The Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine gave the order to inflict maximum casualties on the aggressor,” said the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Major General Valeriy Zaluzhny.

11:20 a.m.: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has denied that Minsk forces are taking part in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, after claiming that Russian forces entered Ukraine through the Belarusian border. Russian forces have been deployed in Belarus since major military exercises began last month.

11:19 a.m.: Russian ground forces entered Ukraine from several directions, the Ukrainian Border Guard Service said.

Russian tanks and other heavy equipment crossed the border from several northern regions, as well as from the Kremlin-annexed Crimean peninsula in the south, the agency said.

He said one of his servicemen died in a shelling along the Crimean border, the first officially confirmed military death of the Russian invasion.

11:10 a.m.: Russia’s Central Bank said it was blocking short-selling of stocks in a bid to halt the slide and “protect investors’ interests” after Russian stocks fell more than 28% in the past few months. First 30 minutes of trading.

11:05 a.m.: Imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny expresses himself in the face of the Russian offensive against Ukraine. Speaking at a hearing in a case that could see him spend another 15 years in prison, Navalny said: “I want the court to record that I am calling for an end to the war. The people who started this war are gangsters and thieves.”

11:00: The Ukrainian embassy in Ankara has asked the Turkish government to close the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits – which control access to the Mediterranean Sea from the Black Sea – to Russian shipping, according to a declaration published by the Embassy on Twitter.

10:48 a.m.: China says it is monitoring the situation in Ukraine and has called for “restraint” on all sides.

“China is closely monitoring the latest situation, and we call on all parties to exercise restraint and prevent the situation from spiraling out of control,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said during a briefing. regular press.

10:47 a.m.: European Commission chief Ursula von der Layen said Europe “will not let Putin tear down Europe’s security architecture” and expressed the bloc’s unwavering support for Ukraine. She promised to introduce a “massive and unprecedented” set of sanctions against Russia later today to “seriously weaken” the Russian economy.

10:41 a.m.: Ukrainian Ministry of Interior deny the separatists claim to have taken control of the town of Schastiya located near the line of contact in the Lugansk region.

10:38: Russia said on Thursday it had closed shipping in the Sea of ​​Azov. “As part of the conduct of anti-terrorist activities, navigation in the Sea of ​​Azov is suspended from 4 a.m. on February 24 until further notice,” said a representative of the Federal Maritime Transport Agency Rosmorrechflot to Russian agencies.

10:34 a.m.: According to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, an aerial bomb attack on a military unit in Odessa left at least six people dead and at least seven injured, with 17 others missing.

Russian ground forces entered Ukraine from several directions, the Ukrainian Border Guard Service said, with tanks and other heavy equipment crossing the border in several northern regions, as well as from the Crimean peninsula annexed to the Kremlin. in the south.

10:24 a.m.: French President Emmanuel Macron issues a statement saying: “France strongly condemns Russia’s decision to wage war on Ukraine. Russia must end its military operations immediately. France stands in solidarity with Ukraine. It stands with Ukrainians and works with partners and allies to end the war.”

10:18 a.m.: The Russian ruble crashed 10% immediately after Putin’s announcement to hit a new all-time low, dropping to 90 against the US dollar and 100 against the euro.

10:08 a.m.: All Russian diplomatic staff were evacuated from Ukriane, the Russian Embassy in Kyiv Recount the public news agency RIA Novosti.

9:53 a.m.: Video footage published by independent observers appears to show that Russian rockets targeted Ukrainian population centers, despite the Russian military’s claim that they only target military infrastructure.

9:45 a.m.: Germany called the Russian military operation in Ukraine a “day of shame” and warned that the political and economic consequences for Moscow would be severe.

“Germany condemns in the strongest possible terms this unscrupulous act by President (Vladimir) Putin. Our solidarity goes out to Ukraine and its people,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a statement.

9:42 a.m.: The first casualties have been reported. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser said shelling left one dead and another injured in Brovary, Kyiv region.

Russian-backed separatists now control two towns in Ukraine’s Lugansk region, which Ukrainian police later confirmed.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it had removed military infrastructure from Ukrainian airbases and downgraded its air defenses.

He denied reports that one of his planes was shot down over Ukraine. The Kiev army had earlier said that five Russian planes and a helicopter were shot down over the Luhansk region.

9:25 a.m.: Video appears to show the long traffic jams on the roads out of Kiev.

8:00 a.m.: Flights from southern Russian cities close to Ukraine were canceled on Thursday.

According to a decision by the Russian aviation authorities, flights from a number of airports in southern Russia, including Krasnodar, Sochi and Anapa, have been temporarily suspended,” Russian agencies quoted an official as saying. Flights from Rostov airport were also canceled, local media reported.

6:00 am: In a televised address, Putin announces “I have taken the decision of a military operation”. He calls on Ukrainian soldiers to lay down their arms, claiming to want a “demilitarization” of the former Soviet state but not its occupation.

Explosions were soon reported in Ukrainian cities such as Odessa, Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Mariupol and Kyiv.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy declares martial law.

AFP contributed reporting.

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